Discovering Orson Welles

Discovering Orson Welles

Discovering Orson Welles

Discovering Orson Welles

Synopsis

Of the dozens of books written about Orson Welles, most focus on the central enigma of Welles's career: why did someone so extravagantly talented neglect to finish so many projects? Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has long believed that to dwell on this aspect of the Welles canon is to overlook the wealth of information available by studying the unrealized works. Discovering Orson Welles collects Rosenbaum's writings to date on Welles--some thirty-five years of them--and makes an irrefutable case for the seriousness of his work, illuminating both Welles the artist and Welles the man. The book is also a chronicle of Rosenbaum's highly personal writer's journey and his efforts to arrive at the truth. The essays, interviews, and reviews are arranged chronologically and are accompanied by commentary that updates the scholarship. Highlights include Rosenbaum's 1972 interview with Welles about his first Hollywood project, Heart of Darkness; Rosenbaum's rebuttal to Pauline Kael's famous essay "Raising Kane"; detailed essays and comprehensive discussions of Welles's major unfinished work, including two unrealized projects, The Big Brass Ring and The Cradle Will Rock; and an account of Rosenbaum's work as consultant on the 1998 re-editing of Touch of Evil, based on a studio memo by Welles.

Excerpt

The process-oriented methods that permitted at least four Welles features
and a number of short works to be left unfinished are easier to understand
than they would be if we adopted the mental habits of producers, which is
exactly what more and more critics today seem to be doing; but that is no
comfort to those of us eager to understand, and eager as critics always are to
have the last word, which we are not about to have with this filmmaker. At
least our direction, as always, is laid out for us: as long as one frame of film
by the greatest filmmaker of the modern era is moldering in vaults, our work
is not done. It is the last challenge, and the biggest joke, of an oeuvre that has
always had more designs on us than we could ever have on it.

Bill Krohn’s cautionary words in Cahiers du cinéma’s special “hors série” Orson Welles issue in 1986 offer a useful motto for the present collection of essays, whose own title, Discovering Orson Welles, suggests an ongoing process that necessarily rules out completion and closure—the two mythical absolutes that Welles enthusiasts and scholars seem to hunger for the most. Accepting this ground rule is a prerequisite for understanding both the form and content of what follows: a chronological and historically minded ordering of still-evolving research, and one that considers the very notion of a “definitive” view of Welles an ideological and practical roadblock, a casualty of what might be called the ever-popular Rosebud Syndrome. Consequently, I can’t pretend to any sort of completeness even in relation to the 13 features released during Welles’s lifetime; there . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.